Saturday, April 28, 2012

Wanna Try Something New Today?

Try Compassion


Friday, April 27, 2012

Let's Talk About... Pain & Suffering

"This is suffering, we should know. Once we know about suffering, then there is no more to know. Since suffering does not arise without a cause, by knowing the causes of suffering, we would abandon and purify the causes and the origin of suffering. Once we have purified the causes of suffering, there is no more to purify and then comes the cessation of suffering. By knowing that there is cessation of suffering, we would follow the path, attain the path that leads us to such cessation. Once we have perfected the path, there is no more to attain and no more path to follow." - The Buddha

Let's pretend you're on your way home from work. If you're from Calgary, the words "Deerfoot at 4:00pm" should mean something to you, maybe stir a little something inside?
Picture that traffic jam. Do you remember the feelings you experienced? How much you wanted to yell and swear and scream... especially at the other people in the other cars?
Been there!
Those people, though, are in the same jam as you. They want to get home and eat and be happy and not stuck in a stuffy car. They don't want to suffer.
But, what is suffering, really?
Suffering is not the traffic jam: that's pain. Suffering is your ideas about the traffic jam; the anger, frustration, boredom, worry, annoyances.
The traffic jam is out of your control; you are not Bruce Almighty (though it might be nice)!
However, you can control your suffering - work with it! You can learn to let it go!
This is what The Buddha means when he comments on "purifying the situation" - think of washing your face. When you do, you're washing away the dirt and grime and everything that your face has picked up throughout the long, long day. How great does it feel? Amazing!
Well, let's "wash" the suffering away - take away the dirt, the grime, the everything that is clogging your life at the moment and just let it go down the drain.

The suffering is yours and is what you make of it; take it and learn to let it go.
You can get over the "jams" you encounter in life.
Learn to practice tolerance, patience and compassion.


Thursday, April 19, 2012

Let's Talk About ... Karma

Everyone has heard and spoken about karma at one point in their lives. The way I knew karma was related to a variation of the Golden Rule; "Do unto others as you would have done to yourself."

However, my conception of karma became misconstrued at one point, especially during high school, as I viewed karma as an almost vengeful energy that attacked people who had done me wrong.
Come on, we've all seen people we hated in high school who got fat and said, "Karma!" in THAT tone, shrugging our shoulders and secretly tasting the (let's admit it) sweet taste of revenge.
I've frequently used the phrase, "Karma will give them what's coming to them."
Well, no, that's not karma. That's me hoping for revenge and that someone's fiance leaves them at the altar, and that's toxic thinking... as sweet as that situation may be.

Okay, so the point I'm taking the long way 'round to is: Revenge and vengeance is NOT karma!!

Hinduism and Buddhism click in the instance that both promote tolerance. Karma, in both religions, is simply that everything has its effect, causing something else in turn. Aka - a butterfly flaps its wings on one side of the world, and there's an earthquake elsewhere - heard of that analogy?
Yes, we all have.
Centuries prior to the Buddha, karma was taught as a part of "divine will" - not unlike God's will... enter 'smiting' - but the Buddha differed, and taught that we are all responsible for our own destinies.

So, the lesson learned for me here is that just because I was treated unjustly at the end of a prior relationship doesn't mean that "karma" is gonna swoop down on Mister Dude and ruin his future endeavors. He's made the new relationship for himself, obviously its a great one, and he has created a new destiny for himself.... just as I have. And I've created a happy one. I'm not going to rely on karma to exact my vengeful wishes, but I will embrace karma as it encourages me to make my own destiny; to send good energy out into the world and recieve good energy back. Think of the Lion King: "The Circle of Life".

However, I will not claim to ever be immune to thought of revenge and vengeance... I will vow to not let them consume me. I must practice tolerance, as it is so fundamental to following the Way and achieving nirvana.

Let's think again of the Zen teaching: "Hold onto a feeling, good or bad, and feel this feeling until it cannot be felt anymore. Then, simply, let it go."


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Wanna Try Something New Today?

Got Bland Chicken?

Try coating it with crushed pecans, garlic powder and a pinch of pepper!
The pecans are nuts, so they have a naturally well, nutty, flavour and the garlic powder and pepper will add the little bit of "something extra" every flavour combination needs!

My easy- to - make chicken recipe?
(Making for 5 chicken breasts)
- crushed pecans
-garlic powder
-crushed black pepper

The amount of pecans, powder and pepper you put into the coating is really up to you - if you love the taste of garlic, feel free to pile it on, just "season" to your preferred taste.

-2 eggs, beaten

Place eggs in a bowl and beat them, you will use them to coat the chicken breasts before you "bread" them
"Bread" chicken - be sure to cover to entire breast

Heat oven to 450F, place breasts on a well-oiled or "Pam-ed" cookie sheet and bake for 20 mins.
When timer rings, flip chicken and cook for 5 minutes or until cooked through.

And, for added flavour, a lemon dipping sauce! The chicken will be delicious even without the sauce, but the sauce really adds a kick! My hubby sometimes pours the sauce over the chicken, whereas I prefer to dip!

1 Tbsp all purpose gluten free flour
1/4 cup white, granulated sugar
1/4 lemon juice
1/2 cup chicken broth

Place all ingredients in a small saucepan and heat on medium and stir constantly for about 5-10 minutes or until slightly translucent. Remove from heat and let stand about 3 minutes and stir. Continue to stir every so often until chicken is done.

Serve and enjoy!


Let's Talk About... Zen In The Home

Sometimes, there seems to be no time for de-stressing at home; you walk in from work, grocery shopping, being at the gym, etc. and all you want to do is crack open a beer (or, in my hubby's case; a can of Coke), sit down and watch whatever happens to be on (Family Guy, anyone?).
How fulfilling is this, really? Sure, we get to be lazy and watch entertaining shows, but could we possibly be spending our time to achieve greater things?
Thomas would say, "No" at this point, just to be funny.
Seriously, though; what can you do to create a motivating, comfortable, and capable space to help you become the best you?

Let me tell you how I am learning to do it (note I put LEARNING).

I keep a yoga mat on each floor of my house, except for the basement as it is unfinished, as the sight of the mat reminds me of the feeling I get when I'm practicing yoga and also motivates me to get down and do it! Having it readily available has become very valuable for me. As well, this also motivates me to meditate - meditation helps to clear my head, zen me out and really connect within myself and with my spirit guides. This promotes a healthy attitude and inner strength to strengthen my "outer", so, again, having the yoga mat within my sights is a good form of motivation.

We recently "built" a record wall. Like many people, both Tom and I take solace in music - especially the classic rock music - and we went ahead and hung shelves and put our old, classic records on the shelves. The shelves we bought are great, as they have a little crook on the end that keeps the records from falling off. Here's a terrible pictures of an awesome project (it really does look better in person)!
The step stool there has since been replaced with my acoustic guitar.
Looking at the music is quite inspiring, and having the guitar there has inspired Tom to play a bit more - he is a great guitar player, but since that darned X box thing came out, he doesnt play as much as he should.
It definitely brings a Zen- like feeling into our home, through the presence of music.

As I am a Buddhist, I keep Buddhist tokens and idols around my home - I have many Buddha busts, as well as statues of The Buddha meditating, ranging from small to large. I have quite a few Laughing Buddhas, including a small, beautiful, pure-jade Laughing Buddha that I hold very dear.
These inspire me to practice yoga and to meditate, as most of the Buddha statues I have depict the Enlightened One meditating, sitting in Lotus Pose.

Candles also help me to zen out, as well. A scent from a good candle is like medicine for a bad headache.

I also have been striving to keep the house clean - I'm glad our house is the size it is - any bigger and I don't know if I could keep myself motivated to clean it! I do take pride in cleaning, it is therapeutic, and after I'm finished, I usually go for a run or do yoga, or attempt meditation. Once I'm active, I'm active, and it takes an unusually large headache or a extreme bout of laziness to calm me back down after cleaning. Knowing how great my house can look after a good clean definitely keeps me motivated to continue to keep it clean, to clean when I have the chance, and to stay motivated to keep active, even after I've finished! Also, there's always the threat family members or friends may show up unannounced, and I do like to visit a clean house when I see my friends and family, so I strive to meet the expectations I assume they have.

Humour and love also help to keep us grounded; our cats help us achieve this, as well as our friends and family. But, every day, our cats (as they are indoor-only) make us laugh and shower us with love and affection.
We also are very fortunate to have a wonderful relationship filled with love and humour - Tom is actually a very funny guy and I can say that I do keep him laughing as well.

Those are a few things the keep this house Zen, well try to keep this house Zen.

There's always more work to do, and everything is a learning process. Let's be thankful that we have been given these lessons and grateful that we are able to live life with priveleges, love, laughter and the oppurtunity to learn.